Attention – Why OOH will be better than ever in 2024

Geoff Lyons, CEO, PML Group, looks to the year ahead for OOH Advertising 

Out of Home in Ireland saw substantial growth in 2023. The channel is in rude health, brimming with dynamic vibrancy and we foresee advertiser 2024 investment surpassing that of 2019 levels, the pre pandemic benchmark for the OOH industry. Depending on the source you read, global 2024 total ad-spend is expected to grow between 4.5% and 6%. We expect OOH in Ireland to outperform this rate of growth, increase its overall share of total market spend and see growth in both classic and digital OOH formats.

At a time when attention is in short supply, OOH gets brands noticed. Kantar’s recent Media Reactions Study for 2023 showed a significant correlation (90%) exists between media channels that capture consumer attention and those where they prefer to see ads. Among 16,000 surveyed, in-person media channels were preferred by consumers with OOH and DOOH scoring among the top five favoured by consumers. It is no surprise, as people are out again, rediscovering their environment. Brands, through OOH, are part of this joyful awakening.  In 2024, they will reap the attention opportunities of Outdoor, by maximising the potent mix of Classic and Digital OOH. Here are the key reasons why OOH = Attention.

The Tech Factor

New technology is driving growth. Digital OOH can collect and deploy valuable data that changes what the landscape looks like and how we can help brands turn up. Advertisers have become more adept and more sophisticated in seeking and engaging technology such as content platforms like Liveposter. The Moments of Truth research speaks to relevancy and optimisation in OOH as a driver of attention and action. Client-owned data, collected data and live data will become more relevant in engaging audiences in a post cookie world.

Our 4T research initiative highlighted the possibilities in AR and mobile gaming linked to OOH and 2023 was also a game-changing year for use of QR codes, linking the real world with the virtual. Brands will continue the upward trajectory for tech enabled Outdoor in 2024.

Data-Driven Insights
OOH advertisers can access an infinite pool of data, the key is understanding data’s relevance and how to use it to maximise brands exposure to their target audience.  More brands are understanding how to optimise their digital OOH messaging whilst integrating it with their wider OOH communications. In 2024, we’ll see increased use of context, levering DOOH’s flexibility to deliver trigger-based messaging at scale, delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience. Smarter planning and buying technology will maximise digital efficiency as a result of greater understanding of how Irish people live work and play, and what they think, feel and do. When brands reach the right audience, attention will follow.

First party data, collected data and live data will become more relevant in engaging audiences in a post-cookie world. Technology is also facilitating improved analytics and measurement tools that will allow marketers to track the effectiveness of their campaigns and make evidence-based decisions.

Serious about Sustainability
The drive towards the most sustainable product offering has always been top of the OOH agenda across the industry. The worldwide rallying call has been met with positive and proactive industry responses in the form of energy use, printing, lighting, digitisations, amenities, green transport provision and excellence in operational procedures. Brands should, and will, support media that are serious about building a sustainable future and we expect brands to engage OOH more and more to deliver their own sustainability messaging.

The KPMG ‘Comparative analysis of power consumption and carbon footprint across media’ report in 2023 states that compared to other advertisement media, Outdoor is less intensive both in power and CO2eq per unit of revenue and audience. The share of OOH in the advertising power consumption of media advertising amounts to a marginal 3.3%, significantly less than OOH’s market share.

Audiences more and more place a premium on authenticity and meaningful brand stories. OOH advertising provides a demonstrably trusted platform for conveying a brand’s history, mission, and values, nurturing a genuine connection with the audience – an invaluable connection when it comes to communicating on perhaps the most pressing issue of our time. PML Group will continue to work with industry stakeholders to drive this agenda in our market across 2024.

We also noted from the UK this year the publication of PwC ‘Supporting UK Society’ report which highlighted the investment made by the OOH industry towards public infrastructure, maintaining bus shelters, lifesaving defibrillators, free telecoms services and the funding of public transport. The report estimated this in monetary terms at more than £1bn in the last 14 years.

People. Place. Posters. 
Given the weight of choice across digital, audio and visual platforms, capturing an attentive audience in one place is no mean feat. For brands on OOH, this audience has never been greater. Our population is the biggest in 150 years. Traffic, retail footfall and commuter journeys are eclipsing 2019 levels. High levels of urban mobility are now complimented by a suburban buzz as new lifestyle patterns and the behavioural change of recent years has settled. The audience is primed for attention. According to TGI, 64% of NI urbanites and 73% of Dubliners have seen an OOH ad in the past week and it could be argued that OOH is the last truly ‘broadcast’ medium.

Outdoor is the ultimate location medium. After all, everything happens somewhere, so therefore using location as the lens to examine various data sets and extrapolate insight is the ultimate in understanding on-the-go human behaviour.

The OOH stage for this audience will also drive attention in 2024. Expanding digital networks add vibrancy, flexibility and accountability, complementing an evolving Classic portfolio of high-quality creative canvases. And Outdoor is the ultimate creative canvas – a vast palette with which to paint our cities and local communities.  Classic billboards, Golden Squares, 96 Sheets pack an impressive creative punch and we see repeatedly the impactful creative work that can be achieved on buses and 6 Sheets. The canvas has been enhanced in recent years with Digital Bridges, more networked screens and more options at Point of Sale.

In 2024 we will see more brands combining the classic with the digital across multiple touchpoints to make advertising that really connects with its audience.

Creativity and Innovation
Not everything that counts can be counted. There is a priceless value on building real world emotional connections between brands and consumers via humour, excitement and surprise. Our clients are continually looking for creative and innovative ways to engage audiences. OOH has a unique ability to literally stop people in their tracks with special builds and dominations that are enjoyed and shared. Our Specials Effect research points to how doing something a bit different (or a lot different) will pique interest and increase attention.

Research from Posterscope on Gen Z shows that although they grew up in the digital age, this audience increasingly drawn to real-world goods and face-to-face interactions. By offering immersive experiences, interactive elements, and real-time promotions, OOH campaigns can drive this audience towards physical stores and encourage local shopping.

In any ad, certain elements capture the viewer’s attention more than others. Understanding this dynamic is critical in determining what part of an ad will grab the viewer’s attention and keep it engaged. Our attention prediction model, PREVIEW, helps refine OOH creative to maximise effectiveness.

Integration with Digital Media
OOH and digital media, particularly mobile digital media, are highly complementary. Most digital media is now consumed via mobile, and this tends to be in an OOH environment. We have discussed how OOH can bridge the physical/virtual worlds, but Posterscope’s Gen Z research also indicates that younger audiences are actively seeking ways to reduce their digital consumption. Over 50% of Gen Z individuals are actively exploring avenues to limit screen time, opting for activities such as reading books or spending time outdoors. As shopping habits show younger audiences are demonstrably seeking physical experiences and embracing local shopping, it’s therefore logical to surmise that OOH advertising, complemented by ever-present digital (especially social) media could and is becoming an increasingly effective strategy to connect with this sought after demographic.

Sophisticated Mass Marketing
We know multi-format campaigns work hardest and we also know that getting the right location for OOH advertising and targeting the right audience can be one of the biggest challenges. For the reasons outlined above, we can do both jobs better than ever, reaching the masses and targeting specific locations, ensuring clients reach their audience at the right time. It is this sophisticated OOH planning, combined with the mediums high impact canvas that will ultimately deliver on OOH’s greatest asset in 2024 – human attention.

Great Brands and Great People
It is clear that Ireland is rich with great brands and there is a deep pool of marketing talent that guides them. If attention is the new currency of advertising effectiveness, and we know that people move a lot, how do you get their attention when they don’t sit still? At PML Group we understand how people move. Where they are, when they are there and what they’re doing. We are experts at connecting brands with people in the physical world. We know the right time, place, and context to capture people’s attention and we are fortunate to have partnered with brave clients to create award winning work that builds brands and drives performance that creates business growth.

As we look to the year ahead, our question to those brands is simply this – Are you getting enough attention? 

Be more now.